French Open Day 7 Preview: Four Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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French Open Day 7 Preview: Four Must-See Matches

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All eyes are set to descent upon court Philippe-Chatrier when Andy Murray takes on the formidable Juan Martin del Potro. In what will be a repeat of last year’s thrilling final at the Olympic Games, the world No.1 faces a tough test if the Argentine is able to produced his best tennis. Meanwhile in the women’s draw, title favourite Simona Halep will have her work cut out when she faces talented Russian player Daria Kasatkina, who won the Charleston Open earlier this year.

 

 
These are the four matches to watch out for on Saturday :-

Andy Murray vs. Juan Martin Del Potro

These men faced off in two of the best matches of 2016, with Murray winning the gold medal match at the Rio Olympics, and Del Potro getting revenge in an over five-hour Davis Cup semifinal matchup. This could be a big-time third round match if Del Potro is healthy. He came into Roland Garros with back and shoulder issues, and proceeded to injure his knee during his second round match with Nicolas Almagro. In a startling turn of events, Almagro was the one to retire from that match due to an ongoing knee injury. This brought us another heart-warming moment in the first week of the French Open, as Del Potro consoled Almagro after he collapsed to the court in a full-on sob. In Murray’s second round match, he was in full cranky mode as he struggled and whined his way through four tough sets against Martin Klizan. Murray’s play has been far from inspiring this year as he’s fought injuries and illnesses, and I’d like Del Potro’s chances if he were healthy. But Del Potro appeared to be far from 100% as he struggled to run down balls against Almagro. Let’s hope Juan Martin is well enough to make this a battle that’s even half as good as their epic matches from last year.

Simona Halep vs. Daria Kasatkina

After injuring her ankle in Rome and having her participation at Roland Garros in doubt, Halep has looked strong in her first two rounds and hasn’t dropped a set. Kasatkina will be a step up in competition. The 20-year-old Russian is on the rise on the WTA tour, and she won the title on the green clay in Charleston earlier this year. But Kasatkina didn’t win a match on the red clay in Stuttgart, Madrid, or Rome. She’s also never been passed the third round at a major. Halep should be favored here, but this will be the first stern test for one of this tournament’s favorites. Simona could be threatened if her ankle slows her down.

Kei Nishikori vs. Hyeon Chung

Asia’s biggest tennis star will meet who many speculate could be the continent’s next big star in this third round match. Nishikori will be the favorite in their first meeting, but don’t count out Chung. The 21-year-old Korean has had a nice clay season, including victories over fellow next-gen player Alexander Zverev as well as Gael Monfils. It will be interesting to see how Chung performs in his first third round appearance at a major, and against a top player like Nishikori.

Stan Wawrinka vs. Fabio Fognini

In an open quarter of the draw, Fognini may be the biggest hurdle in Wawrinka’s path to return to the French Open semifinals. Stan leads their head-to-head 4-1, but Fabio is a dangerous clay court player. All four of his career titles have come on clay, and he reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in 2011. Stan can also be prone to playing less than his best during the first week at majors. Fabio will need to bring his A-game of big, flat ground strokes, as well as some of his drama that can frustrate opponents, in order to pull off the upset. If both players are on, this should be fun.

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Former Roland Garros champions and five top 20 players to highlight a great edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo

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The Ladies Open WTA International in Palermo will be the first tournament to be held next August since last February.

 

The Italian tournament will feature a great line-up which includes two confirmed past Roland Garros champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko and five top 20 players. There is a good chance that 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep could be added in the field.

“We are glad about Simona Halep’s great interest in Palermo Ladies Open. We will be waiting for her at the Country Club for an historic edition of the Palermo tournament. We have been in contact with Halep’s manager for some time. We have been talking for days about her potential participation in Palermo. She is one of the best players in the world and her presence would contribute to make an already high-level tournament extrahordinary. We will leave our doors open to her for as long as possible, as well as for other top ten players that will want to resume their season in Palermo”, said tournament’s CEO Oliviero Palma.

The other stars who have signed up to the Ladies Open are 2019 Roland Garros champion Marketa Vondrousova, two Grand Slam semifinalists Elise Mertens (2018 Australian Open) and Anastasija Sevastova (2018 US Open), Aryna Sabalenka (winner at the Wuhan Open in 2018 and 2019, WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and Doha in 2020) and Elina Rybakina (winner in Hobart and finalist in St. Petersburg and Dubai in 2020), Dayana Yastremska (winner of three tournaments in Hong Kong in 2018, Thailand and Strasbourg in 2019).

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova lift the titles in Perugia

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova won the Zzz Quill Tennis Tour in Perugia. Sonego followed up his Italian title won the previous week in Todi with a 3-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 win over Croatia’s Viktor Galovic (world number 269 and number 7 seed) in the final of the Perugia tournament.

 

“Galovic started very well. It was difficult to adjust to his game and improve during the match. I maintained the right attitude and I managed to win the title. I enjoyed two fantastic weeks in Todi and Perugia. This confirmed my good work in training in the past two weeks. I gave my best and I am confident for the rest of the season”, said Sonego.

World number 117 Liudmila Samsonova won the women’s title came back from one set down to beat world number 307 Stefania Rubini 4-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in the women’s final after saving two match points.

“I won a very tough final with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy that I played many matches. It was one of my goals on the eve of the tournament. I showed that I am able to keep the level of my tennis high, when I play focused”, said Samsonova.   

 

 

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[EXCLUSIVE] Brandon Nakashima: “I Love Federer, But My Game Resembles More Djokovic’s”

Nakashima speaks to UbiTennis about his liveliest memory of training with Nadal at Wimbledon. The duels he had with Lorenzo Musetti and Tseng Chun-Hsin, the high praise for Sebastian Korda and Hugo Gaston. Why he doesn’t like clubbing and what his new coach Pat Cash has been advising him to do.

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The latest instalment of UbiTennis’ video series sees Ubaldo Scanagatta and Steve Flink speak with Brandon Nakashima. An 18-year-old American tennis star born on August 3, 2001, who goes by the nickname B-Nak.

 

He is at No.220 in the ATP Rankings (with a career best at 218) and is second-best among those who were born in 2001, trailing only Jannik Sinner. His surname is of Japanese origin, but it was his Vietnamese maternal grandfather who initiated him to the game of tennis when he was three. He is 1.85 metres tall and weighs 78 kilograms. He was born in San Diego, and his father Wesley was also born in California – his parents are both pharmacists. He played for the University of Virginia, where he was the Freshman of the Year for the Atlantic Coast Conference, before moving on to the pros.

Since Delray Beach, in February, he’s been working with Pat Cash, immediately reaching the quarter finals and beating four Top 100 players. His best shot is his two-handed backhand, and his favourite player is Federer. A superb athlete, he is considered the best American prospect. He is self-described as shy, but he actually isn’t that much, once he gets going. He loves sushi, but also admits to having a sweet tooth. Given the status of some of his victims, it can be assumed that he’s already better than his ranking.

VIDEO SCHEDULE

Minute 00:00: Introduction and recap of his highest-profile wins.

03:40: His behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic: “I wear a mask whenever I’m outside. I’ve been trying to stay cautious as much as possible in public areas”. He also appreciates the chance of being able to train at some local private courts.

05:07: The special relationship with his grandfather: “My mom’s dad is from Vietnam. He first started to get me out on the court when I was about three and a half years old, just feeding me balls at a local park and from that time onward I started practicing more and more everyday”.

06:45: Bonding with his main coach, Pat Cash, during the pandemic.

07:38: Cash claims he noticed immediately Brandon’s “extraordinary racquet control” – does he think that this is his best quality too?

08:42: Their first meeting: “We had a couple of mutual friends; at the time I had just turned pro and I was looking for a good coach…”

11:53: His idols growing up: “I always liked to watch Federer play, but I think now my game is more similar to Djokovic’s”.

12:40: The experience of hitting with Nadal: “A couple of years ago I was playing the junior Wimbledon tournament…”

14:36: His thoughts on the best future prospects…

17:20: His transition as a pro aged only 17: “It was crucial on and off the court for me to go to college and to then play a full season at 17 [Editor’s Note: at the University of Virginia], it helped my game and made me mature as a person. I’d advise most players to go to college and get that experience…”

19:45: Recapping his best junior Slam results.

21:25: Developing his game with Pat Cash: “During these training blocks here in California, we definitely decided to work a lot on the transition and net game to add more variety into my game…”

23:55: What are his current plans? “It’s tough to plan tournaments right now since we don’t know when or if they’re even starting…”

25:35: How does he feel about the issue of playing behind closed doors? “It will be interesting, everybody is so used to people watching, so I think most players will find it maybe a little weird at the beginning…”

26:47: His off-court life: “I try to relax and have fun. I like playing other sports, on days off I play golf with friends or relax at home watching TV, just getting the mind away from tennis. I don’t like going to dance or clubs, it never was my type of feeling of going out; I like a more chill state with my friends.”

30:04: His knowledge of tennis history.

31:30: Where does Brandon see himself in 2022/23? “The goal is to keep improving my results and my rankings, and maybe…”

33:20: After the Big Three era, who is his pick to become the next world N.1?

36:10: Pat Cash’s most frequent tip: “I have to train to get ready for the Slams…”

Article written and translated by Tommaso Villa

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